Review: The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (Psychedelic)

This review covers the psychedelic track The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist.

This track was released in 2000 on the album Since I Left You.

The track starts with some horse samples and an orchestral sample. After that, another sample is placed into the track. This is backed by a drum kit. Some choir elements join the track. After that, another sample is dropped and repeated. A number of other samples are added and some of them are then scratched.

From there, the choir elements return along with brass elements. The drum kit continues. The drum kit then drops. A number of other samples are then dropped into the track along with some scratching. String elements then enter the track along with some LP popping. More samples are dropped in. The drum kit briefly drops out.

Some choir elements join the track. Some samples repeat along with some scratching effects. After more samples, the choir elements return to the track. Some of the orchestral elements drop out. Another set of samples enter the track. Some more scratching hits with a bird sample. A traditional guitar joins the track. A few scratch effects are applied as the track gradually fades out. Horse samples then lead the track out.

This is one of those tracks where you don’t necessarily appreciate the track for sounding great, but rather, what went in to constructing it. That alone is problematic for casual listening as it is difficult to really have a reaction from it other than the obvious observation that it’s abstract.

The best comparison for this is abstract art in a museum. One person is hugely into art and appreciates absolutely anything and everything. The other person is just your average person who came along just to find out what it’s like. They both come across an extremely abstract art piece. The art person will explain composition, colouring, texturing, technique, and dress up the piece as something incredible. Meanwhile the average person is going to look at the art person, then look at the art piece, see just a random series of blotches of paint and say, “Er, OK. Whatever you say?”

That kind of scene is what I visualize most listeners of this track. Some might be able to hear the abstract layers, notice how they intermingle in an abstract way, yet manage to keep a structure of the track intact anyway. Most, however, will hear this track and think it’s just weird. So, the potential audience is extremely limited in that regard.

The other problem with this track is that there isn’t much of a direction to this track. You might parse small amounts of direction, but it is not really enough to make it interesting in that regard.

Overall, while it might catch some people with an affinity to abstract music, this one likely loses a lot of the audience because it is so abstract. While production quality levels are high, it almost forgets to be what it’s supposed to be – a track that people can be interested in and themes people can relate to. The direction leaves a lot to be desired as well. So, a pretty weak track overall.


Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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